An Illinois man has sued his state police, claiming his 1st and 14th Amendment rights were violated when the police rescinded its offer to make him the first Muslim chaplain for the Illinois State Police.
Kifah Mustapha was subject to additional scrutiny after the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported on his ties to organizations involved with financing and supporting Hamas. The lawsuit calls the report defamatory and blasted IPT Executive Director Steven Emerson as a "zealous Islamophobe."
Court records in a Hamas-support trial in Dallas identified Mustapha as a member of the Palestine Committee and/or its organizations. The Committee was created by the Muslim Brotherhood to help Hamas politically and financially. The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, the target of the Dallas prosecution, was an arm of that committee, records show.
The IPT report prompted an additional background investigation by the Illinois police. Several months later, the agency revoked Mustapha's appointment.
The lawsuit claims Mustapha "was unaware of any such entity known as the Muslim Brotherhood Palestine Committee and was never a member of such a committee, if it ever existed."
An attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is helping represent Mustapha in the lawsuit In a press release, the CAIR-Chicago chapter repeated the theory that the Palestine Committee is a contrivance: "Emerson's report claimed that Imam Kifah served on the 'Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood,' when no such committee exists."
It's an unusual claim, because two of CAIR's founders are listed on a Palestine Committee telephone list (No. 25 is a pseudonym for former chairman Omar Ahmad and No. 32 is current CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad). FBI agents discovered internal records about the committee during a search of a committee member's home.
During the trial, prosecutors said Ahmad played an especially significant role on the Palestine Committee. In October 1993, its members gathered at a Philadelphia Marriott hotel to discuss ways to derail the U.S.-brokered Oslo Accord, which sought a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to a transcript of an FBI wiretap, Ahmad convened the gathering, using the name CAIR now says doesn't exist:
"This meeting was called for by the Palestine Committee in order to have a seminar or a meeting to the brothers present here today in order to study the situation in light of the latest developments on the Palestinian arena, its effects and impact on our work here in America."
Other exhibits describe the Palestine Committee as an umbrella group formed to oversee all U.S. groups dedicated to the Hamas cause. The Committee was formed shortly after a key Hamas representative met with U.S. leadership in 1988. According to a 1992 internal memo:
"The Committee was then tasked with supervising all the organizations which serve the plan of the Movement domestically and internationally in addition to the Palestinian cause. Among these organizations were 'The Islamic Association [for Palestine],' 'the Occupied Land Fund,' and 'The United Association.'"
Another Palestine Committee planning document describes its relationship with Hamas:
"The Committee asks the Group for more moral support for this work and the Committee overseeing it as it represents its strong arm and the one which is specializing in defending the Islamic cause in Palestine and support for the emerging movement, the Hamas movement."
Mustapha worked with two of the main organizations which were part of the Palestine Committee. He served as an Illinois representative and fundraiser for the Occupied Land Fund [HLF's original name] from the mid 1990s until 2001, when the U.S. froze the organization's assets. An HLF document in evidence shows that Mustapha was a paid employee for HLF from 1996-2000.
Mustapha also served as a member of a volunteer committee for the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). In court testimony, Mustapha recalled donating money to HLF and "maybe" IAP. Additionally, Mustapha sang in a band that performed at HLF fundraisers. Its songs routinely featured praise for Hamas, its leaders and its martyrs.
The HLF prosecution ended with sweeping convictions in November of 2008.